As a matter of urgency, Highland Council roads officials have been asked to bring forward options for a long term solution that provides a secure transport link between Wester Ross and Lochalsh.
The move came at the Council’s Transport Environmental and Community Services Committee today (Thursday) as the result of the closure of the A 890 Stromeferry Bypass - which takes traffic from Lochcarron to Kyle/Plockton and on to Skye - due to landslides and the continuing danger of rock fall.
Long term options will include a bridge across the Strome Narrows, a new by-pass and avalanche shelters, with costs estimated between £40m and £70m.
The bypass has been closed since 22 December, last year, as the result of landslides and the continuing danger of further rock fall at a point 100 yards west of the Avalanche Shelter.
The Council aims to award a contract for short-term remedial work early next week. Four contractors have been invited to submit their bids, setting out their methods for as quickly and safely as possible getting the road back open. The earliest indication of the road opening – on a temporary basis – is 17 February, with completion of remedial work planned for mid April.
Meanwhile, Scotrail are laying on an extra train service from Monday 23 January between Inverness and Kyle, which will arrive in Kyle by 8.40 am. This will enable pupils of Plockton High School from the Kishorn and Lochcarron areas to travel by train and arrive at school in time for the start of the school day. They will return home at the end of the school day by bus and passenger ferry, the Sula Mhor, which has been commissioned on an emergency basis by the Council to run between North and South Strome.
To keep local traffic moving, a 6-car turntable ferry from Glenelg, the Glenachulish, is shuttling across the Strome Narrows Monday - Saturday. It is intended that from Monday 23 January it will operate from 7 am – 6 pm Monday – Saturday. Priority is given to local traffic. It will not run on a Sunday to give the two skippers and crews their required time off.
The passenger ferry will operate a limited service on Sunday.
Ferry timetables for next week will be published tomorrow (Friday).
Public meetings were held on Monday 16 January at Lochcarron and on Wednesday 18 January at Achmore when more than 300 people turned out to have their say on the closure.
The Council has said it will return to both communities in a month’s time to set out the plan of action to reopen the road by the successful contractor and review the interim travel arrangements.